First, pick a theme. There are several types of classic wine tastings: horizontal (same vintage, different producers), vertical (same producer, different vintages), terroir (same place of origin, different producers) and blind (the label or even the entire bottle is completely covered).
Next, consider the sequence in which you will taste the wines: old before young; dry before sweet; white before red; light-bodied before full-bodied; simple before complex.
Then bring these elements together to create your theme, such as “Old World vs. New World Cabernets,” “Dessert Wines of Portugal,” or “The World of Sparklers.”
Finally, set the stage. Make sure that you have paper ready for your guests to record their impressions of each wine, and plenty of palette cleansers such as water and crackers. Use our handy checklist to make sure you have everything you’ll need. Learn More
Then Choose a Wine-Tasting Theme
Old World vs. New
The wineries of the U.S., South America and Australia produce wines with the same names as French, Italian and German wines, but the wines can actually taste quite different from their Old World counterparts. Learn More
Choose a wine region that interests you and taste several wines from that region, perhaps accompanied by local cheese or a special dish of the region. Good candidates for single-region tastings include Alsace (France) and Rioja (Spain). Learn More
Try several different bottles of the same type of wine to really get to know a grape. Several different bottles of Pinot Noir from different wineries in California, Oregon or France would make an interesting tasting. Learn More
What makes a “very good year”? Find out by tasting several wines from a highly praised season. Or match your wine tasting to an anniversary year to make it even more special. Learn More
Many people prefer light-bodied wines, but don’t know there is a large range of styles within this category. Try some light-bodied whites or even include some lighter reds, like Gamay or Dolcetto. Learn More
Full-bodied wines are often good candidates for aging, which adds another dimension to your wine tasting. Try a Barolo, Barbaresco or Super Tuscan alongside other full-bodied wines. Learn More
What could be more inviting to your guests than an array of sweet treats? Sample fortified dessert wines (such as Port or sherry) or try dessert wines made by other methods (like Icewine and Sauternes). Learn More
The world of sparklers makes for a festive wine tasting. Compare Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava to a traditional French Champagne. Learn More